Monastery of Kaisariani

Monastery of Kaisariani

The Monastery of Kaisariani is located east of Athens, hidden in the slope of a hill, at the foot of Ymittos Hill. It is surrounded by a tall fence with two gates, one on the east and one on the west side.

The monastery was built in the 11th Century and was dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. It is a cruciform, registered, four-pillar church with a dome. Its walls are built with stone enclosed wall building, but without rich décor. The ceramic-covered chapel that is located north of the church is dedicated to Saint Antonios and it is a 16th century addition. The narthex, covered by a dome, was built in the 17th Century, while the bell-tower was added later, during the 19th Century.

The interior of the church is adorned with murals of the 16th and 17th Centuries, while the wall-paintings of the narthex are a little earlier and were created, according to an inscription, by the Peloponnesian painter Ioannis Ypatiou, in 1682.

During the Turkish occupation the place was used as an oil-press. Two groups of cells are preserved in the west and the south side. West of the monastery, outside the fence, are the ruins of a big, three-aisle basilica, dated in the 10th Century. The excavation research proved that this basilica replaced an earlier one of the 6th Century. This church was probably the first major church building (Katholikon) of the monastery that was established in this area.

The monastery came into existence during the Early-Christian period, on a low hill southeast of it current position and was dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. The excavations revealed the remnants of two successive basilicas, dated in the 6th and 10th Centuries.

The complex that is salvaged today was built in the 11th Century and remained in use during the Turkish occupation. The monastery used to possess an excellent, rich library that was moved to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens but was destroyed during the Greek War of Independence of 1821.

Excavations were conducted in 1958, on the hill northeast of the monastery and revealed the ruins of basilica of the 6th Century, underneath the ruins of a 10th Century basilica.

In 1952, the Athenian Society of Friends of the Trees took over the repairs of the church and its restoration to the original shape it had in the 11th Century.